154 B- POLEVOI screen to be put round his bed, which, as everybody knew, was an indication that the patient was likely to be taken to "ward number fifty". With the aid of camphor and oxygen, they got his pulse going again, and the night surgeon and Vasily Vasilyevich went away to get what sleep they could for the remaining part of the night. Klavdia Mikhailovna, with tear-stained and anxious face, remained at the patient's bedside behind the screen. Meresyev could not fall asleep. He lay thinking with horror: "Is this really the end?" The Commissar was evidently still in great pain. He was delirious and kept repeating a word which sounded to Meresyev like "give". "Give, give me____" Klavdia Mikhailovna, thinking that the patient wanted a drink, came from behind the screen and with a trembl- ing hand poured some water into a glass. But the patient did not want to drink. The glass tinkled against his set teeth and the water splashed on to the pillow; but he still kept repeating, now in an imperative and now in a pleading tone, the word that sounded like "give". Suddenly Meresyev realised that the word was not "give" but "live", and that with every remaining fibre of his being this big man was fighting to keep off death. A little later, the Commissar calmed down and opened his eyes. "Thank God!" murmured Klavdia Mikhailovna with relief and began to fold the screen. "Don't! Leave it!" protested the Commissar. "Don't take it away, nurse dear. It's cosier this way. And don't cry; there is too much rawness on earth as it is____Why are you crying, my Soviet angel? .. . What a pity we meet angels, even such as you, only on the threshold... of that place." 10 Alexei was experiencing something he had never felt before. From the moment he began to believe that it was possible, by training, to learn to fly a plane without feet, and that he could become an airman again, he was overcome by a passionate desire for life and activity.